RETIRED Zimbabwean long-distance runner Tendai Chimusasa yesterday paid tribute to fellow runner Cuthbert Nyasango who broke his long-standing national marathon record at the Volkswagen Prague Marathon in the Czech Republic on Sunday.
Nyasango crossed the finish line in two hours, 9mins and 52secs on his way to finishing third at the prestigious International Association of Athletics Federations Gold Label race to break Chimusasa’s record of 2 hours, 10mins, 57secs which had stood for the past 16 years.
The 43-year-old Chimusasa, who set the previous record at the Hamburg Marathon in April 1998 said he was happy for Nyasango as he had shown that he is progressing in his career.
Ironically both Nyasango and Chimusasa hail from Nyanga.
“I’m actually hearing it for the first time, but I’m very happy for Cuthbert as he has shown that he is progressing in his career. I hope he continues to work hard in his career and continues to lift the country’s flag high,” Chimusasa who now works at the Zimbabwe National Army, said.
“The record had stood for a long time and that was a proud achievement for me, but in sport records are there to be broken. Infact I’m happy that someone has finally broken it as it shows that our athletes are doing well,” Chimusasa, who also holds the national records in the 10km and 25km road races, said.
The long-striding Chimusasa enjoyed a glittering career during his heyday and the proudest moment of his career was when he carried the Zimbabwe flag at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, US.
Some of the highlights of his illustrious career include winning the 1992 Lisbon half-marathon, the Berlin half-marathon in 1994 and 1997.
Chimusasa was also a cross-country runner and won the Eurocross meeting in Luxembourg in 1994 and 1996.
His ninth-place finish in the men’s marathon at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney was the country’s best perfomance at the Olympics until Nyasango finished seventh at the London Games two years ago.
Nyasango also spoke of his delight after breaking the national marathon record and said more was still to come from him ahead of next year’s World Championships and the Olympic Games.
“I feel blessed and honoured. After trying to run under two hours 10mins for the past five years I’m delighted with the achievement. I want to thank my coach Benson Chauke, my family, the people I fellowship with for their prayers and Naaz (National Athletic Association of Zimbabwe) for encouraging me to continue working hard,” he said.
“Now I can finally start enjoying marathon running and focus on the future. Our major focus now is the World Championship in China next year and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In-between we are planning to take part in some shorter races and marathons.”
Nyasango said he was hopeful his achievement would help him attract sponsorship to help him prepare for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“We have been trying to get sponsorship from local companies, but we haven’t got any feedback from more than eight companies that had shown interest in backing us. We hope as the Olympics draw closer they will come on board not only for me, but for all the athletes who aspire to qualify for the Olympics. Preparations start now not three months before the games,” he said.